Why bother calling it anything else?

slasher

SLASHER

3 Stars  2016/360m

“Everyone in this town has a part. Not everyone has a future.”

Director: Craig David Wallace / Writer: Aaron Martin / Cast: Katie McGrath, Brandon Jay McLaren, Steve Byers, Christopher Jacot, Patrick Garrow, Dean McDermott, Rob Stewart, Mayko Nguyen, Erin Karpluk, Enuka Okuma, Jessica Sipos, Wendy Crewson.

Body Count: 15

Laughter Lines: “He’s made himself judge, jury, and …hangman!”


Harper’s Island, Scream: The TV Series, Scream Queensand now Slasher. The Chiller channel’s Canadian eight-part mystery is the latest loon-with-a-knife outing to go straight to the small screen rather than straight to DVD. The generic quality of the title allows for future seasons to start anew with a body count tale in a whole different place and time.

Eight episodes work out better than Scream Queens’ interminable unending thirteen, as the welcome isn’t completely worn out, hacking through our senses until we can take no more and only seeing Ryan Murphy chainsawed to pieces stands a chance of fixing it.

Here, the small town of Waterbury, Halloween 1988, an expectant couple are slaughtered by a machete wielding loon dressed in a creep executioners garb. Twenty-eight years later, the saved infant, Sarah Bennett (McGrath, recently eaten in Jurassic World), moves back to town with her journalist husband Dylan (the always likeable McLaren, dreads sadly gone, but becoming a familiar genre face). They move into the same house. Where the murders happened. Face palm.

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No sooner has Sarah settled in, opened a gallery, made a few friends, The Executioner returns and begins ridding the township of various individuals based on the Seven Deadly Sins: The abusive old lady across the street goes first, then a merciless developer… Anyone with a dodgy secret has their days numbered.

Sarah turns to her parents’ incarcerated killer, Axl Rose lookalike Tom Winston, for help before The Executioner comes for her, and begins developing a bizarre co-dependant relationship with him, that eventually leads to a rather obvious revelation, given that her late mother turns out to have been giving Maureen Prescott a run for her money. Or rather, more bang for her buck.

Inventive murders include a guy stuck in a hole with a sack of deadly snakes tossed in, a severed head found in a deep fryer, live cremation, eaten by nature, plus the usual stabbings, drownings, and beheadings.

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Could it relate to the girl who mysteriously went missing five years earlier? A cinderblock dropped on to a car from a bridge in 1968? Or something else completely?

Slasher has a relatively tight budget compared to the other recent series’, which results in a smaller, easier to manage cast roster, and a body count that doesn’t go stupidly ballistic. It plays more like a 90s Scream contemporary than anything (aided by the same writer and director overseeing the whole thing), drawn out to cover the episode order. But this is no bad thing, despite some of Sarah’s decision making, which sees her become BFF’s with a murderer, and venture down numerous dark alleyways on her own.

The killer’s identity, revealed a little sooner than expected, doesn’t make a whole lotta sense, but things take a real dark turn come the end, which bucks the usual trend of the final girl’s passivity in the face of closure, which was pretty impressive. Here’s hoping Season 2 can at least match the potential on show here, hopefully with a more generous financier.

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Blurbs-of-interest: Brandon Jay McLaren was in Harper’s Island, Scar 3DTucker and Dale vs Evil; Katie McGrath was in Red Mist; Erin Karpluk was the lead in Ripper 2.

A Final Destination movie a day (keeps the paranoia in play)

Time on my hands… Last week I opted to watch a Final Destination film a day. Why? Probably dreamt about it. Or talked about it. It’s always fun to notice new things:

Monday: Final Destination (2000)

This viewing’s rating 5 Stars

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  • I continue to advocate the Flight 180 plane crash as the scariest disaster of all five films.
  • The TWA 800 footage was in poor taste, wouldn’t it have been easier to make them bound for Italy? Germany? Spain?
  • Who pays Clear’s rent?
  • The black shadow-blob thing was cool and creepy.
  • Alex says he didn’t switch seats etc. so the order is wrong, but he did. He did!
  • I hope Clear’s dog was adopted by a lovely family.

Tuesday: Final Destination 2 (2003)

This viewing’s rating 4 Stars

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  • If the events of the first film occurred 5-6 weeks after the plane crash, and then Alex, Clear, and Carter went to Paris six months after the others died, Alex apparently didn’t leave his house for three months until he died, so Clear has only been in her padded cell for two months tops.
  • Regardless of how good the idea that this group are affected by the deaths from the first film scuppering their own, the dialogue in the scene where they realise it is beyond dire. But question yourself, how could it be anything but!?
  • Shouldn’t the ‘outward ripple’ have kept, uh, ‘rippling’?

Wednesday: Final Destination 3 (2006)

This viewing’s rating 3 Stars

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  • Weird how Jesse Moss’ name appears on the credits but he’s in it for a matter of minutes, but Amanda Crew’s isn’t, despite having a much bigger role.
  • Fuck the danger, that rollercoaster looks amazing. And long. Very, very long. I’d ride it.
  • This one is badly scripted: Wendy and Kevin talk > Death > Wendy and Kevin talk > Death. Over and over…
  • Ian and Erin would’ve made much more interesting protagonists.
  • The sister’s friend Perry doesn’t utter a single word in the whole film. Not even a ‘fuck!’ when she gets speared.
  • The cops following Wendy and Kevin add nothing. Nothing. They’re 100% useless.
  • I don’t like the decision to ‘kill ‘em all’ was based on some lame feedback. It renders the series a bit void if there’s absolutely no hope for anybody.

Thursday: The Final Destination (2009)

This viewing’s rating 2 Stars

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  • In true ‘this is the last one’ style, they lied.
  • Devour by Shinedown is the best thing in the entire film.
  • ‘Character’ names include: ‘Racist’ (and ‘Racist’s Wife’!), ‘Mechanic’, ‘Cowboy’, and ‘MILF’.
  • Who are these leads? What do they do? Where are their families?
  • Why are they hardly interested in the fact their friend had a premonition? They’re just like “on with life!”
  • The woman playing MILF/Samantha was Emmanuelle in the 90s porn series.
  • Nobody mentioned Hunt once after he bites it. Or seemed sad.
  • Death-by-carwash would’ve been awesome? It still happens in Thai FD rip-off 999-9999.
  • I’m still staggered this one is the most successful of the series.

Friday: Final Destination 5 (2011)

This viewing’s rating 3.5 Stars

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  • The extra behind Sam and Molly climbs around or over the concrete divider thingy three times in different shots.
  • CGI water splashes still have a long way to go.
  • Yay! It’s Tony Todd.
  • The massage scene is actually really funny.
  • But I never want acupuncture.
  • There are no black women in any of these movies.
  • Flight 180 – still terrifying!
  • The ‘Greatest Hits’ megamix of grue at the end! Amazing.

Conclusions:

  • Still nobody visits a spiritualist, medium, or shaman.
  • Still nobody questions where the premonitions came from.
  • But the series is still 80% awesome. Fuck The Final Destination. Even the title sucks.
  • Make another one please New Line! A proper dark, broody, eerie one.
  • I’m way suspicious that almost every item I own is capable of eviscerating me now.

Blame it on the girls

hashtag-horror#HORROR

2.5 Stars  2015/98m

Director/Writer: Tara Subkoff / Cast: Chloë Sevigny, Timothy Hutton, Sadie Seelert, Bridget McGarry, Hayley Murphy, Mina Sundwall, Emma Adler, Blue Lindberg, Taryn Manning, Natasha Lyonne, Balthazar Getty.

Body Count: 7

Laughter Lines: “If he’s so rich, why does he dress like that? He looks like Hitler.”


I read an article a couple of years ago where psychologists stated that childhood ‘ends’ at age 11. Hence, while all manner of organisations, parents’ groups, and what have you bleat on about protecting the children, up until they’re, say, sixteen, the kids have all but stopped being kids.

#Horror is a weird and difficult film to classify. Creator Subkoff conceived the idea based on a conversation with a friends daughter, who, when asked what horror was to her, filled Subkoff in on her cyberbullying experiences.

In the film, 12-year-old scholarship girl Sam is sort-of invited to a slumber party at rich girl Sofia Cox’s arty house in the middle of nowhere, one snowy December day. Sam’s only friend is Cat, who it seems has become slightly unhinged since the death of her mother, and whose father is ultra-controlling.

The other four girls are, like the hostess, are nasty children of equally nasty parents, who spend their time bitching about how their last house was bigger and, uniformally, cannot be without their phones for more than a matter of seconds, with which they video or photograph everything, competing in a social media site that gives them points based on popularity. It’s all that matters.

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The girls communicate via the medium of put-down (their rule is that if anybody laughs, it’s not mean), bubbling over until Cat is thrown out by the others after she goes too far insulting the requisite tubby girl. Sam convinces the others to lock away their phones for an hour while Sofia’s mother (Sevigny) is at an AA meeting. At this point, they’re forced to open up and have a sub-Breakfast Club conversation about parents who ignore them, divorces, first periods, first kisses… But it doesn’t last: “There’s nothing to do without our phones.”

Cat’s father crashes in looking for his daughter, trying to scare some sense into the girls. Sam goes to look for Cat in vain, and discovers the body of Sofia’s father, who was slashed up at the beginning and, eventually, the killer goes after the girls in the last twenty minutes or so.

Unpleasant characters abound, both adult and child, with Sam the only halfway decent one, and even she shies away from doing the right thing at the right time, so desperate to fit in she goes along with the others’ cruelty.

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Mixed to bad reviews are indicative of a problematic film, mainly because it doesn’t adhere to any set genre and only becomes a slasher film at the very end, but the message is clear that social media is the big villain over and above any nut in a mask, that tweens, girls in particular it would seem, are so vulnerable they’re willing to sacrifice any real friendships in favour of ‘likes’.

A cross between Welcome to the Dollhouse and last year’s Facebook-kills flick Unfriended, with a few visual elements of Scott Pilgrim. Just remember it’s an art film before a horror film, title be damned. And fortunately my 12-year-old niece can just about be pried apart from her phone.

Blurbs-of-interest: Taryn Manning was also in Groupie; Natasha Lyonne was in Madhouse; Balthazar Getty was in The Tripper.

Doctor Death

surgeon1994THE SURGEON

2 Stars  1994/18/96m

“First Jason… Then Freddy… Finally, a professional.”

A.k.a. Exquisite Tenderness; Clinic

Director: Carl Schenkel / Writers: Patrick Cirillo & Bernard Slowe / Cast: Isabel Glasser, James Remar, Sean Haberle, Peter Boyle, Malcolm McDowell, Charles Dance, Beverly Todd, Charles Bailey Gates, Walter Olkewicz, Mother Love.

Body Count: 8


What a cast! How could it go wrong? It can’t …right?

A doctor secretly working on a breakthrough serum that would end physical suffering is fired for his experiments on the patients, goes mad, and returns to take revenge on the people responsible for shutting him down. It’s up to nosy docs Glasser and Remar to put a stop to the carnage before it’s too late.

Not too much going on in the way of thrills and there’s precious little slashing to be seen, plus the killer’s identity is revealed too soon into the movie, robbing it of a possible extra twist – and so we’re left with a slick but standardised medical thriller, the only original remaining plot feature of which is the killer’s ability to overcome his injuries by injecting himself with his own serum thus making him invincible. There’s also full frontal male nudity, courtesy of Dexter’s dad Remar.

As far as hospital slashers go, Cold Prey II and Halloween II are yet to be beat.

Blurbs-of-interest: McDowell later played Dr Loomis in Rob Zombie’s Halloween re-thingies, and was also the sheriff in Silent Night; Walter Olkewicz was in Milo.

Stock Background Characters 101: The Snooping Reporter

In this feature, we examine the lesser beings of the slasher movie realm, which, if you’re making your own slasher film, could provide a good cast roster for you.

No killer or final girl profiles here, this is a celebration of those underlings who made the most of their fleeting flirtation with stardom. And usually died.

Keep a few bills handy, you’re THE SNOOPING REPORTER

sbc-reportersOverview: Murder makes the news. Multiple murders bring the press like bloodhounds and there’s always one reporter trying to get the scoop, even if it means he/she risks endangering themselves to get it!

Linguistic Snapshot: “Can you confirm or deny that the killer’s still out there and that you have the wrong man after last night’s triple-murder at the old mill?”

Styling: In the slasher realm, Snooping Reporters are more often female than not, so power suits and great hair are usually par for the course.

Hallmarks: Pushy and unrelenting, The Snooping Reporter has but one goal: The scoop. It doesn’t matter how many locals might die, in fact the higher the bodycount the better the story. They will stop at nothing to get their exclusive.

Downfall: The Snooping Reporter sometimes dies, sometimes doesn’t, and they can either be an aide or a hindrance to the final girl. Gale Weathers, doubtlessly top of the horror movie reporter tree, is a caustic, self-centered hack who is eventually instrumental in unmasking and reprimanding the killers in Scream and all of its sequels. In Pieces, the nosy journalist is savagely stabbed to, well pieces, on a waterbed; the feminist critic in Tenebrae also meets a bloody end; TV anchor Robert Campbell (below) makes the error of visiting the old Voorhees house and becoming possessed by Jason himself; student reporter Timmy has his throat cut and is shoved into a locker in Cherry Falls.

sbc-jgth-robertGenesis: Lauren Tewes is a TV newswoman who thinks a killer of women lives in the building next door in Eyes of a Stranger in 1980. Next there’s a brief proto-Gale Weathers character in Halloween II, who utters the awesome line “You need their parents permission to make a statement, if you can’t find their parents, get a statement anyway.” She might be the earliest incarnation of an uncaring, career-focused reporter, but is only in the film for a matter of seconds (apparently she is killed in the novelization).

The doomed journo in Pieces came next, and then Tracy, a brash, trenchcoat wearing reporter who is sure Norman Bates is still killing in Psycho III, ultimately becoming the de facto heroine. By the 90s, Barry Simms fatally decides to broadcast from the Myers house in Halloween 6.

Legacy: Courteney Cox’s portrayal of Gale Weathers in Scream is unquestionably the most significant influence on such characters. In her wake, we had Kate Winsail (!) in Australian Scream knock-off Paranoid, Paul the object of lust for many a girl at Pendleton University in Urban Legend; Taylor Gentry in Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon, who unwittingly stumbles into final girl territory. Reporters also turned up in the various Scream parodies.

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Gale Weathers and one of her many clones.

Films like Nightcrawler showcase just how far the media might go for the juiciest story, so for the time being it’s likely that slasher films will continue to feature reporters sticking their oars in, probably dooming various local teenagers in the process. To quote the audience member at the press conference in Scream 3: “Are you saying we should go out and cut each others throats because that’s what you did?”

Gale’s response: “Metaphorically? Yes.”

Brutal.

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